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Thursday, February 28, 2013

HEALTHY Same Sex Friendships

Catholic, Gay, and Feeling Fine, Thanks

A History of Tears

Feb 24, 2013

"Oh, stop crying already." It's twenty years ago, but I remember the exact tone of my father's voice, equal parts impatience and disgust. To me, crying is something that happens, not something I can decide to do or not do, so his command makes me burn with all the anger of which a nine-year-old is capable, which is a frightening amount. But there's nobody I can tell about any of this.

It's eighteen years ago. I am auditioning for a play that our church group is putting on. The woman in charge has me read a line or two in front of everyone. I'm profoundly self-conscious, but I do it anyway. She takes me aside later and asks if I'm okay. Even though she's someone I know and like and trust, I can't say something as simple as That was really hard for me, because as soon as I open my mouth, I feel the danger of tears — not just a trickle but an explosion. So I say, Yeah, it's nothing.
When she goes away, I wonder for the first time: why is it that whenever I try to tell someone what's wrong, the tears dam up in my head until it's a choice between silence and total breakdown — even when it's something small? What's wrong with me?

It's thirteen years ago, my first year of college. I'm standing alone in my dorm room and facing for the hundredth time the feeling of separateness: I don't fit in here, don't fit in anywhere, and it's somehow all my fault. By now I should have learned the rules, but it's too late to start.
I start to cry, and then, disgusted and impatient, I yell at myself: Stop it. Stop crying. I slap myself in the face two or three times, because sometimes that helps me stop. Soon I stop.

It's nine years ago, my last year of college. I'm in Sal's room, confessing to him how alone I am, how separate, what a fake and a poser and a general failure at being anything that anyone would recognize as a human being.
I hate the way my voice is starting to shake, I hate that the tears are coming. I must sound so pathetic. I can't stand for him to watch me anymore, so I get up and run out. I catch a glimpse of his face, but I can't look for too long. Nobody should see this.

It's five years ago. I've gotten together the necessary money and resolve, and I find myself at a campground in rural Virginia, participating in the 27th Journey Into Manhood weekend — still in disbelief that I've subjected myself to such manifest kookery, still wildly expectant, still wondering how I'm going to explain this one to my friends.
I watch other men scream and howl, weep and claw at the ground, come face to face with the things they never let themselves feel before. When it's my turn, I do it too.
The weekend is over, and I feel as empty and fresh as a new wineskin. For the next few weeks I keep bursting into tears at unpredictable moments. I don't mind. It feels good to cry; it feels clean.

It's nine months ago. I am on the porch, spilling my guts to my roommate S.: how living here with him and C. was supposed to was supposed to be my chance to finally be normal, and how it all went wrong instead. How I've got to move out because I can't control my fears, my feelings of exclusion, my jealousy. I apologize for my tears, which are flowing freely now.
He looks at me and says, Hey, come on. It's me.
So I blow my nose and we keep talking. Soon I'm feeling at peace, like the reservoir is drained, no more pressure left behind the dam. He gives me a hug and, because by this time it's past two, I let the poor bastard get some sleep.

It's three days ago. I am sitting around the kitchen table with two good friends. We're drinking cheap beer and leftover wine. We all have to get up in the morning, but nobody feels like leaving.
It's hard to believe how easy it is to talk with them, how much we have in common, even if the specifics differ. I tell them how it used to be for me; how it still is for so many men I know; how I would have once given anything for a night like this; how grateful I still am that such nights are not only possible now, but practically commonplace.
At one point I notice that I'm crying, but that's okay — that is what people do when they are very happy or very sad.
Next moment we are all laughing again.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Pope confident God will guide Church in days ahead

Pope confident God will guide Church in days ahead :: Catholic News Agency (CNA)
February 27, 2013

Pope Benedict XVI responds to the crowd at his final general audience on Feb. 27, 2013. Credit: Stephen Driscoll/CNA.

Vatican City, Feb 27, 2013 / 04:55 am (CNA/EWTN News)

.- Pope Benedict XVI told the 150,000 people who came to his final general audience that he is filled with trust and peace as he prepares to resign, because the Church is not his but God's and he will "not let it sink."
"In this moment," the Pope said, "there is in me a great trust because I know, we all know, that the Word of truth of the Gospel is the strength of the Church, it is her life. … This is my trust, this is my joy."
The Pope made his way through St. Peter's Square in his popemobile and was welcomed by cheering throngs of pilgrims from all over Europe and abroad.
"The heart of a Pope," he told the assembly, "reaches out to the entire world."
"I would like my greeting and my thanks to reach all people."
Benedict XVI will abdicate the chair of St. Peter on Feb. 28 and at that time the Church will be without a Pope.
His impending departure led the Pope to reflect on his last eight years as the successor of St. Peter, whom Jesus called to be a fisher of men.
"When, on April 19 of nearly eight years ago, I accepted to assume the Petrine Ministry, I had the firm certainty that has always accompanied me. In that moment, as I have already express many times, the words that resounded in my heart were 'Lord, what are you asking of me? This is a great burden that you place on my shoulders, but if You ask it of me, on your word I will throw out the nets, sure that you will guide me.'
"And the Lord has truly guided me, he has been close to me. I have been able to perceive his presence daily. It has been a piece of the path of the Church that has had moments of joy and light, but also moments that were not easy," the Pope told the crowd.
He also said he "felt like St. Peter and the Apostles in the boat on the Sea of Galilee.
"The Lord has given us so many days of sun and light wind, days in which the catch was abundant; there have also been moments in which the water were agitated and the wind blew contrary, as in all of the history of the Church, and the Lord appeared to be sleeping.
"But I have always known that in that boat, there was the Lord and I have always known that the barque of the Church is not mine, it is not ours, but it is his and he does not let it sink. It is Him who steers it, certainly also through the men he has chosen, because he has wanted it this way," the Pope stated.
Because God guides and protects the Church, Pope Benedict said that "today my heart is full of thanks to God because he has never made his consolation, his light, his love be absent from the entire Church or from me."
He also told the crowd that he carries "all of you in my prayer, in a present that is that of God, where I gather up every encounter, every trip, every pastoral visit.
"Everything and everyone, I gather up in prayer to entrust them to the Lord so that we might have full awareness of his will, with every wisdom and spiritual intelligence, and so that we may act in a way that is deserving of Him, of his love, bringing fruit in every good work."
Pope Benedict also demonstrated the depth of his pastoral heart by telling the sea of pilgrims that he "would like every person to feel loved by that God that gave his son for us and who has showed his boundless love for us. I would like everyone to feel the joy of being Christian."
He finished the main part of his remarks by saying, "in these last few months, I have felt my strength has diminished and I asked God insistently in prayer to illuminate me with his light to help me to make the most just decision not for my good but for the good of the Church."
"I took this step in full knowledge of its gravity and also novelty," he said, adding that it was also "with a profound serenity of soul."
"Loving the Church means also having the courage to make difficult and painful choices, keeping always the good of the Church at the fore and not our own," Pope Benedict stressed.
His final public audience as Pope will take place on Thursday evening, Feb. 28, at Castel Gandolfo.
The local mayor, parish priest, bishop and the faithful, will welcome Benedict XVI to his residence. After that, he will give one last speech from the window that overlooks the courtyard of the residence.

To read Pope Benedict's full remarks at today's audience, please visit:

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Ben Witherington’s Seven Papal Suggestions

Ben Witherington's Seven Papal Suggestions

I considered this for the link list, but decided it was truly worth a re-blog. You can read it at source at Ben Witherington III's blog Bible and Culture.  (If you want your comment to be seen by the author, leave it at the source blog, not here.)
I was caught totally off guard. When was the last time a Pope stopped poping while still wearing his Papal slippers? The answer is almost six hundred years ago. No wonder I didn't realize this could even happen. On further review, shock turned to understanding. A Pope who was PUP (physically unable to perform the job) decided it was time to step down, and hopefully let younger healthier folks do the job. One of the great problems of course with electing Popes is that it has tended to be based on seniority and experience. And this in turn means that old folks who already have their AARP status become Popes. But frankly the job of Pope is too demanding even just physically for almost any 75-85 year old person, and it became so for Pope Benedict.
Benedict, as we now know, had had a pacemaker inserted into his heart recently. He was tired, worn out. I am not referring to world-weariness or even the weariness that comes from fighting things like the scandal of pederasty again and again in the church. I have no say whatsoever over who should be the next Pope, but if I did here is what I would use as criteria:
1) Pick someone over 50 but under 65 for a change. We need a younger person with fresh ideas not to mention someone in the peak of physical health.
2) If you can find someone who is as good and critical a thinker and theolog as Pope Benedict, by all means pick that person;
3) Pick someone who is not so wed to Catholic traditions that have not been part of ex cathedra pronouncements that he would tend to avoid some serious changes— like for example the option of a priest to be married if he did not have the gift of celibacy. This in itself would probably reduce the danger of pederasty considerably.
4) Pick someone who is prepared to continue the ecumenical discussions with Evangelical Protestants, working towards more concordats on faith and praxis.
5) Pick someone who is prepared to continue the process of weeding out superstitious practices and inessential ideas. For example, the recent dropping of the expectation that a good Catholic ought to believe in limbo is a good thing. In short, a more Biblically focused faith, and one less steeped in traditions that do not comport with the Bible (for example Jesus' descent to the dead) would be a welcome development.
6) Pick a Pope more concerned with protecting his sheep than his shepherds when crisis arises, especially when the crisis is caused by the behavior of the shepherds themselves. Continue to set up accountability structures to protect the young, the innocent, the naive, the poor, and so on.
7) Pick a Pope from somewhere other than Europe. It would be nice to have a North American one for once, considering that English both on the Internet and off of it is the lingua franca of an increasingly global community, society, market.

Ecumenical Patriarch pays tribute to Pope Benedict

Ecumenical Patriarch pays tribute to Pope Benedict

CWN - February 26, 2013

Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople has issued a statement paying tribute to Pope Benedict XVI and his commitment to Christian unity.

"It is with regret that we have learned of the decision by His Holiness Pope Benedict to retire from his Throne, because with his wisdom and experience he could have provided much more to the Church and the world," he said.

"Pope Benedict leaves an indelible mark on the life and history of the Roman Catholic Church, sealed not only by his brief papacy, but also by his broad and longstanding contribution as a theologian and hierarch of his Church, as well as his universally acknowledged prestige," the Ecumenical Patriarch added. "His writings will long speak of his deep theological understanding, through his knowledge of the Fathers of the undivided Church, his familiarity with contemporary reality, and his keen interest in the problems of humankind."

Patriarch Bartholomew continued:

We Orthodox will always honor him as a friend of our Church and a faithful servant of the sacred proposition for the union of all. Moreover, we shall rejoice upon learning of his sound health and the productivity of his theological work.

Personally, we remember with emotion his visit to the See of the Ecumenical Patriarchate over six years ago, together with the numerous encounters and excellent cooperation, which we enjoyed throughout the duration of his primatial ministry.

From the Phanar, we pray that the Lord will manifest his worthy successor as the head of the sister Church of Rome, and that we may also continue with this successor on our common journey toward the unity of all unto the glory of God.

The Ecumenical Patriarch holds a primacy of honor, though not of jurisdiction, among the autocephalous Eastern Orthodox churches. The Ecumenical Patriarchate has 3.5 million members, while the largest Orthodox church (the Russian Orthodox) has 110 million members.

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CHURCH: Pope Benedict has removed many unsuitable bishops, nuncio reveals

Pope Benedict has removed many unsuitable bishops, nuncio reveals

CWN - February 25, 2013

A Vatican diplomat has given Pope Benedict XVI credit for a "cleansing of the episcopate," saying that the Pope has removed many bishops from office during the course of his pontificate.

Speaking in Madrid, Spain, Archbishop Miguel Maury Buendia said that the Pope has confronted bishops who have proved incompetent or unworthy, and asked them to resign. The Spanish archbishop--who is the apostolic nuncio to Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tadjikstan—said that most of the bishops acknowledged their failings and agreed to resign. "There have been two or three instances in which they said no, and so the Pope simply removed them," he said.

"This Pope has removed two or three bishops per month throughout the world because either the accounts in their dioceses were a mess or their discipline was a disaster," Archbishop Maury disclosed.

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Monday, February 25, 2013

PRAYER / Conclave : Cardinal Bertone calls contemplatives to pray for conclave

Cardinal Bertone calls contemplatives to pray for conclave

February 25, 2013

Vatican City, Feb 25, 2013 / 04:31 am (CNA/EWTN News)

.-The Vatican Secretary of State has written to the world's nuns and monks to ask for their prayers for the conclave to elect his successor
"The Holy Father is certain that you, in your monasteries and convents throughout the world, will provide the precious resource of that prayerful faith which down the centuries has accompanied and sustained the Church along her pilgrim path," Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone's Feb. 21 letter says.
"The coming conclave," Cardinal Bertone emphasizes, "will thus depend in a special way on the transparent purity of your prayer and worship."
As secretary of state, Cardinal Bertone will serve as the "Camerlengo." He will be in charge of seeing that the daily administrative tasks of running the Church are taken care of, as well as the one who oversees the conclave.
The cardinal described the whole Church as "anxiously" following the final days of "the luminous pontificate" of Benedict XVI.
He noted that Pope Benedict "has asked all the faithful to accompany him with their prayers … and to await with trust the arrival of the new Pope."
"In a particularly urgent way," he added, "this appeal is addressed to those chosen members of the Church who are contemplatives." And Cardinal Bertone advised contemplatives to look to the Pope's example of devoting "himself above all to prayer, contemplation and reflection."
The Secretary of State finished his letter by saying that Pope Benedict, "with whom I shared the contents of this letter, was deeply appreciative, and asked me to thank you and to assure you of his immense love and esteem."

CONSECRATED LIFE: Vocation, contributions of religious brothers called 'vital to church'

BROTHERS-VOCATION Feb-21-2013 (1,140 words) Backgrounder. With photos posted Feb. 21 and graphic to come. xxxn

Vocation, contributions of religious brothers called 'vital to church'

By Beth Griffin
Catholic News Service

RYE, N.Y. (CNS) -- Religious brothers say they are an invisible group in the church, but that it's not such a bad thing because it allows them the freedom to be ordinary men performing an extraordinary ministry.

That's the view of brothers and other participants at a think tank convened last fall to examine their vocation.

"Our vocation is one of the church's best-kept secrets," Holy Cross Brother Paul Bednarczyk, executive director the National Religious Vocation Conference, told
Catholic News Service. "We are vowed religious who commit ourselves to a particular ministry, live in community and share prayers.

"We are not part of the hierarchy of the church, which gives us more freedom in ministry to respond to those most in need. Our vocation complements the religious priesthood," he said.

The number of religious brothers in the United States fell from 12,271 in 1965 to 4,477 in 2012, according to statistics compiled by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate. More than half are at, or close to, retirement age.

A steady decline in the number of brothers and a persistent need for the witness to dedicated discipleship they provide inspired four groups to discuss the future of the vocation. Seventeen representatives from the Conference of Major Superiors of Men, the Religious Brothers Conference, the National Religious Vocation Conference and the Religious Formation Conference convened Nov. 29 and 30 at the Ossining headquarters of the Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers.

Brothers are laymen who take vows of poverty, chastity and obedience. They belong to communities comprised of brothers only or of both brothers and priests. Religious brothers are dedicated to the particular charism of their community, expressed in service and prayer.

By tradition, some work in schools, hospitals and parishes. Others are monastics. The brotherhood is a distinct vocation, not a step on the route to priesthood.

The think tank affirmed the brotherhood as the heart of male religious life and examined ways to promote it as a serious vocational option for young men. The group will meet again May 14 and 15.

Brother Bednarczyk said the brothers in his community, Congregation of Holy Cross, "share a communion of vocation with the priests and each is more complete because of the presence of both within the religious institute."

"This vocation is vital to the church. Brothers have contributed significantly to the development of the church in the United States, in ministry and as consecrated men, by giving of ourselves to humanity and to God," Brother Bednarczyk said.

Think tank participants acknowledged many Catholics are unfamiliar with the role of brothers in the church and are unclear about the value of religious communities.

"The religious work with others to give common witness to Christian values," said Capuchin Father John Pavlik, executive director of the Conference of Major Superiors of Men. The diminished opportunities for community religious life underscore the sense that "we are all working as independent operators" and lessen the impact of collective witness, he said.

"Every religious community says something appropriate for the times," said Christian Brother Robert Berger, associate professor of religious studies at Manhattan College in Riverdale. Brother Berger, who did not participate in the think tank, said the charism of some religious communities can be distilled to an individual word.

"For the Benedictines, it's stability; the Franciscans, poverty; Christian Brothers, education; Trappists, silence; Dominicans, preaching. Since the Second Vatican Council, the gift has taken a new form, but is still vital to the church," he said.

Manhattan College was founded by the De La Salle Christian Brothers. Brother Berger said although there are more Lasallian schools, with more students now than there were at the opening of Vatican II, the focus is now on the teaching charism, not on the brothers who live it.

"At educational institutions themselves, there is a responsibility on the laypeople's part to struggle to understand what the identity of the Catholic school means," Brother Berger said. "They may look to the religious order for guidance, but it's up to them" to promote and sustain it.

Brother Berger said men considering a religious vocation today "are joining a seed, rather than a large plant," but are attracted to the communal life and worship and the timeless values they promote. "The technology and speed of the way things are done in the 21st century are countercultural to a group of men who pray over psalms that are 3,000 years old," he said.

Brother Berger said parents who once encouraged their sons to become Christian Brothers considered them extraordinary men doing an ordinary ministry. "Now we'll be seen as ordinary men who do an extraordinary ministry," he said.

The brotherhood offers an opportunity to be present to young people in a way married men and priests cannot, Brother Berger said. "I teach at Manhattan, but am also in charge of a residence hall. How many 61-year-old men are living with 263 undergraduates? It's a gift of brotherhood that we're with young people and not with the trappings of a parish structure."

"The sense of freedom has been phenomenal," Brother Berger said. "To be working with young people who will be the church of the 21st century is exciting. I get glimpses, but I have no idea how the spirit will work."

Think tank participants said to promote interest in the brotherhood, religious communities should honor the distinct vocation, enhance its visibility in the church, reinforce the identity of brothers and make them more accessible to young people.

"There is nothing so unique that brothers do in the church that others cannot do," Brother Bednarczyk said. "But the heart of our life is our communal life and prayer life, which is not always visible to people. It's a challenge to make that hidden part visible to a world that craves community."

He said people drawn to religious life are "seeking a balance of prayer, community and ministry."

Marianist Brother Steve Glodek, director of the office of formation for mission for the U.S. province of the Society of Mary, said brothers are somewhat invisible in church circles and "not generally under the same ecclesiastical microscope" as priests. While this does not allow them to "do more or less" than others, Brother Glodek said the lessened scrutiny allows brothers to focus "our vocation in this community we love."

"We're not a threat to anything unless we get into the issue of jurisdiction," he said. With few exceptions, canon law prevents laypeople from being major superiors of religious orders. Because brothers are considered laymen, "the governance issue raises hackles," Brother Glodek said.

He said the downside to invisibility is "as our institutional presence diminishes a bit, so does people's familiarity with what we do and why. Even people going through a university that oozes our spirituality and charism don't have the interaction with brothers they would have in the past."


POPE: Pope Benedict says he is not 'abandoning the Church'

Pope Benedict says he is not 'abandoning the Church'
February 25, 2013

Pope Benedict XVI responds to the crowd at the

Feb. 17, 2013 Angelus. Credit: Stephen Driscoll/CNA.

Vatican City, Feb 24, 2013 / 05:05 am (CNA/EWTN News)
.-Around 120,000 pilgrims heard Pope Benedict XVI deliver his last Angelus address, in which he said that "the Lord called me to 'climb the mountain,' to devote myself even more to prayer and meditation," a change that does not mean he is "abandoning the Church."
"Dear brothers and sisters," the Pope said as he dwelt on the Sunday Gospel on the Transfiguration, "the Word of God feels particularly directed at me, at this point in my life. The Lord called me to 'climb the mountain,' to devote myself even more to prayer and meditation."
"But this does not mean abandoning the Church," he qualified, "indeed, if God asks me this it is just so that I can continue to serve with the same dedication and the same love with which I have done so far, but in a way more suited to my age and for me."
The Pope will be both physically and spiritually "climbing the mountain," since the Mater Ecclesiae monastery where he will retire sits on the highest point in Vatican City with a view of the back of St. Peter's Basilica and then the rest of Rome.
When he mentioned how the Gospel felt directed at him, the crowd reacted with applause that echoed through an overflowing St. Peter's Square.
In his reflections on the Transfiguration in Luke's Gospel, Pope Benedict described the encounter as "a profound experience of relationship with the Father during a sort of spiritual retreat that Jesus lives on a high mountain in the company of Peter, James and John, the three disciples always present in moments of divine manifestation of the Master."
"The Lord, who shortly before had foretold his death and resurrection, offers his disciples an anticipation of his glory," he noted.
The Pope then explained the significance of Peter's comment. "The intervention of Peter: 'Master, it is good for us to be here,' represents the impossible attempt to stop this mystical experience."
Pope Benedict underscored that meditating on this passage yields "a very important teaching."
"First, the primacy of prayer, without which all the work of the apostolate and of charity is reduced to activism. In Lent we learn to give proper time to prayer, both personal and communal, which gives breath to our spiritual life," he said.
He also added a second point that was particularly fitting for his future life of prayer.
"In addition, prayer is not to isolate themselves from the world and its contradictions, as on Tabor wanted to be Peter, but the prayer back to the path, to the action. 'The Christian life - I wrote in my Message for Lent - consists of a continuous climb up the mountain to meet God, before falling back, bringing the love and the power derived from it, in order to serve our brothers and sisters with the same love of God.'"
Benedict XVI finished his pre-Angelus remarks by invoking the intercession of the Virgin Mary, who "always help us all to follow the Lord Jesus in prayer and works of charity."
As he offered greetings in various languages to the throng of pilgrims, each group showed their support by applauding Pope Benedict, with the loudest being the Italians.
A translation of the Pope's full remarks follows.

Dear brothers and sisters!
On the second Sunday of Lent, the liturgy always presents us with the Gospel of the Transfiguration of the Lord. The evangelist Luke places particular emphasis on the fact that Jesus was transfigured as he prayed: his is a profound experience of relationship with the Father during a sort of spiritual retreat that Jesus lives on a high mountain in the company of Peter, James and John, the three disciples always present in moments of divine manifestation of the Master (Luke 5:10, 8.51, 9.28).
The Lord, who shortly before had foretold his death and resurrection (9:22), offers his disciples a foretaste of his glory. And even in the Transfiguration, as in baptism, we hear the voice of the Heavenly Father, "This is my Son, the Chosen One listen to him" (9:35). The presence of Moses and Elijah, representing the Law and the Prophets of the Old Covenant, it is highly significant: the whole history of the Alliance is focused on Him, the Christ, who accomplishes a new "exodus" (9:31), not to the promised land as in the time of Moses, but to Heaven. Peter's words: "Master, it is good that we are here" (9.33) represents the impossible attempt to stop this mystical experience. St. Augustine says: "[Peter] ... on the mountain ... had Christ as the food of the soul. Why should he come down to return to the labors and pains, while up there he was full of feelings of holy love for God that inspired in him a holy conduct? "(Sermon 78.3).

We can draw a very important lesson from meditating on this passage of the Gospel. First, the primacy of prayer, without which all the work of the apostolate and of charity is reduced to activism. In Lent we learn to give proper time to prayer, both personal and communal, which gives breath to our spiritual life. In addition, to pray is not to isolate oneself from the world and its contradictions, as Peter wanted on Tabor, instead prayer leads us back to the path, to action. "The Christian life - I wrote in my Message for Lent - consists in continuously scaling the mountain to meet God and then coming back down, bearing the love and strength drawn from him, so as to serve our brothers and sisters with God's own love "(n. 3).

Dear brothers and sisters, I feel that this Word of God is particularly directed at me, at this point in my life. The Lord is calling me to "climb the mountain," to devote myself even more to prayer and meditation. But this does not mean abandoning the Church, indeed, if God is asking me to do this it is so that I can continue to serve the Church with the same dedication and the same love with which I have done thus far, but in a way that is better suited to my age and my strength. Let us invoke the intercession of the Virgin Mary: may she always help us all to follow the Lord Jesus in prayer and works of charity.

I offer a warm greeting to all the English-speaking visitors present for this Angelus prayer, especially the Schola Cantorum of the London Oratory School. I thank everyone for the many expressions of gratitude, affection and closeness in prayer that I have received in these days. As we continue our Lenten journey towards Easter, may we keep our eyes fixed on Jesus the Redeemer, whose glory was revealed on the mount of the Transfiguration. Upon all of you I invoke God's abundant blessings!

'Primacy of prayer sustains the Church' - Benedict XVI's final public Sunday Angelus

Huge crowd for Pope Benedict's final Angelus audience

CWN - February 25, 2013

"We will always be close in prayer," Pope Benedict XVI assured an overflow crowd in St. Peter's Square on February 24 at the final Angelus audience of his pontificate.

More than 200,000 people flocked to St. Peter's Square for the Pope's midday audience on Sunday. Vatican officials set up giant video screens around the square for those who could not gain entry. The Pope thanked the crowd for their show of support.

Commenting on the day's Gospel reading, which recounted the story of the Transfiguration, the Pope said that one lesson to be drawn from that story is "the primacy of prayer, without which the entire commitment of ministry and charity is reduced to activism." That lesson is particularly timely during Lent, he observed.

However, the Pope continued, "prayer is not an isolation from the world and its contradictions, as Peter would have wanted on Mt. Tabor. Instead, prayer leads to a path of action."

Turning to his own future, Pope Benedict told the audience: "The Lord has called me… to dedicate myself still more to prayer and meditation." In pursuing a quiet life of prayer, he told the crowd, he would not be abandoning his work for the Church, but continuing that work in the best way he could.

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Papal Election: Pope changes rules for papal election, allows for earlier conclave

Pope changes rules for papal election, allows for earlier conclave

CWN - February 25, 2013

Pope Benedict XVI has amended the canon law governing a papal election, allowing the College of Cardinals to begin a conclave without the usual 15-day waiting period.

With a motu proprio signed on February 25, the Pope gave the College of Cardinals the authority to set an earlier date for the conclave "provided that all voting cardinals are present." The rule, as amended, stipulates that the conclave must begin within 20 days after the Holy See becomes vacant, whether or not all electors are present.

Finally, the Pope underlines the right of every qualified cardinal-elector to participate in the conclave without external interference. "No Cardinal elector can be excluded from active or passive voice in the election of the Supreme Pontiff, for any reason or pretext," the motu proprio reads. That provision appears to be a response to the public circulation of petitions calling for Cardinals Roger Mahony and Godfried Danneels to be barred from the conclave because of their involvement in the sex-abuse scandal.

The motu proprio also extends and reinforces the rule of secrecy for the papal conclave. The rule against divulging the proceedings of the conclave is extended to the technicians who will sweep the Sistine Chapel to ensure that no recording devices are present. The new rules set the penalty of latae sententiae excommunication for anyone who violates the secrecy and discloses what occurred in the conclave.

The rules for a conclave, set forth by Blessed John Paul II in Universi Dominici Gregis, had required that at least 15 days lapse after the Holy See became vacant before the conclave could begin. That rule was based on the assumption that the vacancy would occur because of the death of a Pontiff, and the cardinal-electors would require some time to assemble in Rome. In the current case, Pope Benedict provided ample notice of the time when his resignation will take effect, and most (if not all) cardinal-electors have already made plans to be in Rome on that date.

The actual date for the opening of the conclave will be set by the College of Cardinals at a meeting on March 1: the first day of the sede vacante period.

UK: Scottish cardinal resigns after misconduct charges

Scottish cardinal resigns after misconduct charges

CWN - February 25, 2013

Cardinal Keith O'Brien of Edinburgh, Scotland, has resigned, shortly after being accused of homosexual misconduct.

In a statement released on February 25, Cardinal O'Brien said that he was resigning because of age, although he has not yet reached the normative retirement age of 75. He said that he had already submitted his resignation because his 75th birthday will occur in March, and Pope Benedict has agreed to accept that resignation immediately.

The Scottish cardinal has disputed the charges of inappropriate behavior that were raised by three priests and one former priest, but has not directly denied them. In announcing his resignation he did not allude to the charges of misconduct. He did make a general statement: "For any failures, I apologise to all whom I have offended."

Cardinal O'Brien said that he would not participate in the coming papal conclave, although he would remain an eligible cardinal-elector. He said: "I do not wish media attention in Rome to be focused on me--but rather on Pope Benedict XVI and on his successor."

The withdrawal of Cardinal O'Brien means that there will be no British cardinal at the papal conclave. The number of cardinal-electors participating in the conclave has now been reduced to 115.

MEDIA / Papal Election: Vatican spokesman laments spread of false and inflamatory information

Vatican spokesman laments 'profoundly unjust' media coverage

CWN - February 25, 2013

The director of the Holy See Press Office has devoted much of his weekly editorial to "profoundly unjust" media coverage of the Church in the wake of Pope Benedict's resignation.
"The journey of the Church in these last weeks of Pope Benedict XVI's pontificate and up until the election of the new Pope — passing through the sede vacante and the conclave — is very demanding, given the newness of the situation," wrote Father Federico Lombardi, SJ. "We do not — and we rejoice — have to carry the pain of the death of a much-loved Pope, but we have not been spared another test: that of the multiplication of the pressures and considerations that are foreign to the spirit with which the Church would like to live this period of waiting and preparation."
"There is no lack, in fact, of those who seek to profit from the moment of surprise and disorientation of the weak-minded to sow confusion and to discredit the Church and its governance, making recourse to old tools, such as gossip, misinformation and sometimes slander, or exercising unacceptable pressures to condition the exercise of the voting duty on the part of one or another member of the College of Cardinals, who they consider to be objectionable for one reason or another," he continued.
Father Lombardi added:

In the majority of cases, those who present themselves as judges, making heavy moral judgments, do not, in truth, have any authority to do so. Those who consider money, sex and power before all else and are used to reading diverse realities from these perspectives, are unable to see anything else, even in the Church, because they are unable to gaze toward the heights or descend to the depths in order to grasp the spiritual dimensions and reasons of existence. This results in a description of the Church and of many of its members that is profoundly unjust.

But all of this will not change the attitude of believers; it will not erode the faith and the hope with which they see the Lord, who promised to accompany his Church. According to the indications of Church law and tradition, we want this to be a time of sincere reflection on the spiritual expectations of the world and on the faithfulness of the Church to the Gospel, of prayer for the assistance of the Spirit, of closeness to the College of Cardinals that is preparing for the demanding service of discernment and choice that is asked of it and for which it principally exists.

In this, we are accompanied first and foremost by the example and spiritual integrity of Pope Benedict, who wanted to dedicate to prayer, from the start of Lent, this final stretch of his pontificate — a penitential journey of conversion toward the joy of Easter. This is how we are living it and how we will live it: in conversion and hope.
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Pope makes minor changes in ritual for new Pontiff

Pope makes minor changes in ritual for new Pontiff

CWN - February 22, 2013

Pope Benedict XVI has made some changes in the ceremony for the formal installation of his successor.
The changes in ritual, which were approved by the Pope on February 18, do not affect the rules of the conclave that will elect the next Pontiff. Pope Benedict is still considering a change in those rules as well, allowing for an earlier conclave, his spokesman has said.
In the ritual changes, the Pope said that the ceremony for the beginning of the pontificate and the ceremony for the new Pope's enthronement at St. John Lateran basilica should take place prior to, and apart from, the celebration of Mass on both occasions.
The Pope also changed the traditional rule that the new Pontiff should immediately visit the Roman basilicas of St. Mary Major and St. Paul outside the Walls. The new Pontiff should visit those basilicas "when he finds it most opportune," the new ritual indicates.
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Friday, February 22, 2013

ROME: Papal spokesman comments on date for conclave, talks with SSPX

Papal spokesman comments on date for conclave, talks with SSPX

CWN - February 21, 2013

The Vatican has confirmed once again that the Pope may issue a motu proprio allowing for a papal conclave to begin soon after he steps down, but rejected reports that the status of the Society of St. Pius X must be resolved before the Pope's resignation.

At a press briefing on February 21, Father Federico Lombardi, the director of the Vatican press office, said that the Pope is now weighing a motu proprio that could alter the rules for a papal election, allowing the cardinals to begin their meeting without the 15-day waiting period required by existing rules. That document "is being worked no right now," the papal spokesman said. He promised that reporters would be notified when the document is completed, but said that no major changes in procedures were likely.

The date for the opening of a conclave will be set by the cardinals at an initial meeting after the Pope's resignation becomes official, Father Lombardi said. During a papal interregnum, the cardinals who are present in Rome meet daily in "congregations" to handle administrative affairs and settle procedures for the conclave.

Regarding another issue that has prompted many questions from the media, Father Lombardi said that Pope Benedict would not make any final decision on the status of the Society of St. Pius X. That matter would be passed along to the next Pontiff, he said. Some Vatican analysts had questioned whether the traditionalist group was facing a hard deadline to conclude talks with the Vatican before the Pope's resignation takes effect. No such deadline exists, Father Lombardi said.

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CHURCH / Lutheran - Catholic : Lutherans in Rome and the Pope's example

Benedict XVI, an example of faith also for the Lutherans

2013-02-22 L'Osservatore Romano

On the day after his election to the Papacy, which took place on 19 April 2005, Benedict XVI stated in a message to the Cardinals that ecumenism was one of the fundamental themes of his pontificate, takes on as his primary task "the duty to work tirelessly to rebuild the full and visible unity of all Christ's followers".  He was aware that, in order to do this, good intentions do not suffice.  Thus  "Concrete gestures that enter hearts and stir consciences are essential, inspiring in everyone that inner conversion that is the prerequisite for all ecumenical progress".

I wish to recall three actions by Pope Benedict XVI because, as a Lutheran pastor in Rome I perceive and consider these gestures to have a lasting ecumenical importance, capable of showing the way.  The first was his visit on 14 March 2010 to the Evangelical Lutheran Community of Rome, with whom he celebrated Laetare Sunday in our church, the Christuskirche.  For us this was a very special sign of an ecumenical bond.  This small step expresses the place that ecumenism occupies for Benedict XVI.  For, the Pope, as head of the Roman Catholic Church, was available to celebrate – with our small community in Rome – a sacred encounter in the Lutheran tradition.

A second example can be considered which allows one to perceive closeness and communion: Benedict XVI's visit to the former convent of the Augustinians in Erfurt on 23 September 2011.  It was the first time a Pope went to the place where Martin Luther (1483-1546) had been ordained a priest and celebrated his first Mass.  Here the Pope and the bishops of the Evangelical Church in Germany meet together and celebrated an ecumenical service.

Such an orientation to the centre of our faith also distinguishes the third ecumenical sign by Pope Benedict XVI, a gesture which greatly moved me.  During the prayer for the opening of the European Youth Meeting, in St. Peter's Square, on 29 December 2012, at the place where the Pope's seat is normally located, there was a cross.  Just like the brethren of Taizé, the Pope too knelt before this cross, remaining there for several minutes in prayer and meditation.  An important gesture of the conception that the Pope has of himself and a clear indication of the fundamental message of the faith: there is only one Christ, whom we behold together.


Jens-Martin Kruse, Pastor of the Evangelical Lutheran Community of Rome

Thursday, February 21, 2013

CHURCH / Turkey : Orthodox patriarch opposes plan to make Hagia Sophia a mosque

Orthodox patriarch opposes plan to make Hagia Sophia a mosque

CWN - February 20, 2013

Orthodox Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople has staked out his opposition to convert the Hagia Sophia into a mosque.
Once the patriarchal basilica of Constantinople, the Hagia Sophia was converted into a mosque when Muslims conquered the city. In 1935, Turkey's government made the building a museum, as part of the secularizing campaign under the leadership of Kemal Ataturk. But today Turkey's government, while professing the same secular principles, has supported a campaign to build new mosques and convert some historic buildings into mosques. A proposal to make the Hagia Sophia a mosque is now under consideration in the Turkish parliament. ''We want Santa Sofia to remain a museum," said Patriarch Bartholomew. The Orthodox prelate said that if the museum is converted to any religious use, it should become a Christian church, since it was built for that purpose.
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POPE: Another grim report on Pope's medical condition

Another grim report on Pope's medical condition

CWN - February 20, 2013

Pope Benedict XVI has experienced dangerous spikes in his blood pressure and has been advised by his doctor to avoid air travel, according to a report by veteran Vatican journalist Marco Tosatti.
Tosatti said that the Pope's medical condition shows "a progressive deterioration of his health and his energy" that explains the Pontiff's decision to resign. The Italian journalist said that the Pope has suffered from insomnia, has almost completely lost vision in his left eye, and has fallen out of bed several times. Tosatti said that the Pope had been specifically advised by his doctor against making the overseas flight to Brazil for World Youth Day this summer.
Tosatti's report, although it is unconfirmed, matches earlier statements by the German journalist Peter Seewald, who said that the Pope's physical condition was alarming. Seewald had also said that the Pope was losing vision in one eye; the German reporter added that Benedict XVI has lost weight dramatically.
The Vatican has insisted that no particular medical condition prompted the Pope's decision to resign. But the Holy Father himself cited a general decline in strength and energy as the reason for his decision.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

WOMEN: Society, Oscar Pistorius, & contemporary western sexual behaviour

Carolyn Moynihan | Tuesday, 19 February 2013
tags : Oscar Pistorius, sexual behaviour

The guilty silence that killed Reeva Steenkamp

Why does no one mention the most obvious thing that put Oscar Pistorius' girlfriend in harm's way?

To the amazement and disbelief of the world, London Olympic hero Oscar Pistorius is in police custody today with the prospect of spending a life sentence in prison for the murder of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp. Meanwhile, revisionist histories of the man, along with cultural profiling of his homeland South Africa that might help explain his "fall from grace" are pouring in, although none of them goes to the heart of the matter.
Now we learn that the famous Blade Runner is a man with a darker side, a furious temper and an altogether combustible character that big media has ignored up until now. In South Africa, however, he hit the headlines in December after allegedly threatening to break the legs of a man rumoured to be a rival for one of his girlfriends. It is not clear whether this was Steenkamp.
He is a gun enthusiast, like many South Africans, but shooting is almost an obsession with him, it seems. He has difficulty sleeping (something to do with taking steroids?) and would sometimes go to the gun range during the night. He plays war games in his own house: "Nothing like getting home to hear the washing machine on and thinking it's an intruder to go into full combat recon mode into the pantry," he tweeted last November.
Friends have said that his risk-taking and sleeplessness seemed out of control, reports The Independent. "In 2009 he was lucky to survive after crashing his speedboat. A motorbike accident left one of his prosthetics hanging from barbed wire."
Combustible, indeed. Attractive and celebrated as he was, a girlfriend would have experienced that sooner or later and stepped back.
"His tumultuous romantic life has been a staple of local gossip pages," says the Independent, "but some incidents went largely unreported. While no charges were pressed, police sources were aware of at least one other complaint of 'abuse' from a young woman who had been dating the athlete."
This fits with reports that he had rows with Steenkamp at his home, to which the police were called. Neighbours also heard shouting from the house earlier in the evening that she died with four gunshot wounds in her body and a battered head.
There's a hint here, surely, of the fundamental wrong turn that led to this tragedy. Why do some men get violent towards girlfriends and partners (as distinct from wives)? Usually because of jealousy. He senses there is a rival for her affections when he thought, or hoped, they belonged completely to him. When he imagined he had a right to them.
According to an uncle, Oscar Pistorius had a heavy investment in his relationship with rising star Reeva Steenkamp, even though it had started only in November. "They had plans together and Oscar was happier in his private life than he had been for a long time," said Arnold Pistorius.
It is possible that Steenkamp, already 30, was looking for a husband and initially considered Pistorius a good match. At the same time the 26-year-old Olympic champion might have been looking not only for a "trophy wife" but a woman who could turn the fortress where he lived into a home and give him the emotional stability that he clearly lacks. Is it too far-fetched to think that the young man who heroically overcame a huge disability largely through the insistence of his late mother badly needs a replacement for her staunch feminine presence?
But whatever their expectations were of each other after barely three months, they were already confused by the sexual relationship that, clearly, had already started -- a type of relationship that nearly everyone expects these days and that no-one ever questions, even when the results are fatal, as they not infrequently are.
Here are the contributing causes that various commentators have identified so far: gun ownership (1 in 20 South Africans owns a registered firearm, and millions of others circulate illegally because of the fear of violent crime); drugs (it has been suggested that Pistorius killed Steenkamp in an outburst of "roid-rage", that is, steroid fuelled rage); the violence towards women that is "endemic" in South Africa.
There is a sad irony about the last item. Women in cohabiting relationships are far more likely to be abused or killed than married women -- by a factor of 9, according to one study -- and yet cohabitation rates have increased sharply in South Africa as in other countries. There, as in the US, Europe or Australia, pre-marital sex, which often leads to cohabitation, is also taken for granted.
In other words, uncommitted sexual relationships are virtually the norm for women around Steenkamp's age. (She had previously cohabited with a boyfriend.) Of course, they do not all lead to violence, let alone death, but they delay and complicate the quest for a spouse and have many other unhappy consequences.
This is the fundamental mistake that the two South African stars made, and no-one wants to mention it. Sex implied things that neither of them could mean, even if, for fleeting moments, they imagined it did. One of them took the implications far too seriously and it all ended in tragedy, one young life lost and the other in ruins.
Why do we accept this trend? Why do we not warn young women and men of the downside -- and the downright dangers -- of giving themselves bodily and emotionally to someone they barely know? Why do we not give them the dismal statistics before they start experimenting, and the values and character training that will set them on the path of real friendships and marital commitment? Social silence on this matter means social guilt.
Could sexual restraint be too hard for a young man who learned to run like the wind on carbon fibre blades? Would it be beyond a young woman who managed a law degree, a modelling career and jumping off a cliff in Jamaica? Surely not. Continued failure to demand it of the young makes one an accessory after the fact.
Carolyn Moynihan is deputy editor of MercatorNet.

Pope asks continued prayers in these 'unusual' days for church

POPE-ANGELUS Feb-17-2013 (560 words) With photos. xxxi

Pope asks continued prayers in these 'unusual' days for church

People watch from St. Peter's Square as Pope Benedict XVI leads the Angelus from the window of his apartment at the Vatican Feb. 17. The pope is resigning Feb. 28. (CNS/Reuters)

By Cindy Wooden
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Calling this an unusual time for him and for the church -- but not specifically mentioning his resignation -- Pope Benedict XVI thanked people for their affection and asked them to continue their prayers.

A roar of applause rose up from more than 50,000 people gathered in St. Peter's Square Feb. 17 as Pope Benedict came to his studio window to lead the Angelus prayer.

People came to St. Peter's in larger numbers than normal for a Sunday Angelus because it was the first completely public, no-tickets-needed event since the pope announced Feb. 11 that he would be stepping down Feb. 28.

As he does every week, he greeted groups of pilgrims in their native tongues. Addressing Spanish speakers, he said, "My heartfelt thanks ... for your prayers and affection in these days. Continue to pray for me and the next pope."

And he told Polish speakers, "Thank you for your prayerful support and spiritual closeness in these days that are so unusual for the church and for me."

Before leading the Angelus prayer, Pope Benedict commented on the beginning of Lent and the day's Gospel reading about the temptation of Jesus.

He said Lent is a time for Catholics to renew their spiritual lives and turn to God, "renouncing pride and selfishness to live in love."

Making God the center of one's life, he said, requires "spiritual battle" because the devil doesn't want people to be holy and "tries to detour us from the path toward God."

The Gospel account of the temptation of Jesus in the desert, he said, shows just how "subtle" the devil can be: he does not try to trick Jesus directly into evil, but tempts him with "a false good."

When power or material goods, even basic necessities, become the most important priorities, "God becomes secondary," the pope said. "In the final analysis, faith is at stake with temptations because God is at stake. In the decisive moments of our lives, we face a juncture: do we want to follow the ego or God, individual interests or the one who is truly good?"

The good news, the pope said, is that Jesus has defeated the devil for us, "therefore, we are not afraid to take up the battle against evil; what is important is that we do so with him, with Christ, the victor."

For many Roman families, joining the pope for the recitation of the Angelus is a normal part of a Sunday or holiday stroll, and Feb. 17 they were joined by Gianni Alemanno, mayor of Rome, and members of the city council.

With large crowds expected, officers from a variety of Italian and Rome police forces, as well as paramedics and even garbage collectors had deployed along the broad avenue leading to St. Peter's Square and along the square's perimeter by 10 a.m.

An hour before the Angelus, thousands of people were already in the square. The young staked out places by sitting on the cold cobblestones. Others previewed their banners for the press, including some that said: "You are Peter. Stay" and "Thank you, Holy Father. We love you very much."

Pope Benedict ended his remarks by asking for special prayers for himself and his top aides in the Roman Curia as they were about to begin their annual Lenten retreat that evening.


Cardinal Turkson: African culture protects against homosexuality

Cardinal Turkson: African culture protects against homosexuality

CWN - February 19, 2013

In an interview with CNN correspondent Christiane Amanpour, Cardinal Peter Turkson said that Africa has been spared from the worst pains of the sex-abuse scandal because of the cultural forces arrayed in opposition to homosexuality.
"African traditional systems kind of protect or have protected its population against this tendency," the cardinal said. He suggested that the rejection of homosexuality has protected children from molesters.
In a tendentious introduction to the interview, CNN interjects a note that the American Psychological Association has declared that homosexuals are no more likely to molest children than heterosexuals. However Cardinal Turkson's comment is relevant because the vast majority of cases of sexual abuse by Catholic priests have involved adolescent boys.
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VATICAN : SSPX facing deadline before papal resignation

SSPX facing deadline before papal resignation

CWN - February 19, 2013

The Society of St. Pius X (SSPX) has been asked to respond by February 22 to a Vatican proposal that could lead to reconciliation.
Archbishop Gerhard Müller, the prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, has set the deadline for a response from the traditionalist group to the Doctrinal Preamble, which would, if accepted, furnish the basis for a reconciliation of the traditionalist group. The SSPX has not yet formally responded to the Vatican offer, although leaders of the group have indicated that they are not prepared to accept the document.
February 22 is the feast of the Chair of St. Peter. The deadline could also represent the last opportunity for the SSPX to reconcile with the Holy See under the authority of Pope Benedict XVI, who has made it a priority to repair the split between the Vatican and the traditionalist group founded by Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre.

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Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Joel 2:12-13 FEB 19 Morning Prayer - Scripture Reading

Joel 2:12-13 Return to me with your whole heart,
with fasting, and weeping, and mourning;
Rend your hearts, not your garments,
and return to the Lord, your God.
For gracious and merciful is he,
slow to anger, rich in kindness,
and relenting in punishment.

Monday, February 18, 2013

The reward of the righteous is God Himself

"Our witness will always be more effective the less we seek our own glory and the more we are aware that the reward of the righteous is God Himself." - Benedict XVI

BENEDICT XVI: An assessment of Vatican II in Reality, and in the media

The War of the Two Councils: The True and the False

In the farewell address to the priests of Rome, the startling accusation of Benedict XVI against the political interpretation of Vatican II made by the media, during the assembly and afterward 

by Sandro Magister

ROME, February 15, 3103 – To the priests of his diocese, with whom he met yesterday for the last time before leaving, Benedict XVI wanted to deliver "a little chat on Vatican Council II, as I have seen it."

In reality, the "little chat" lasted for almost 40 minutes, with the audience very much attentive throughout.

Joseph Ratzinger spoke off the cuff, without ever looking at any notes.

He proceeded according to major chapter divisions, each of them dedicated to the main questions faced one after another by the Council: the liturgy, the Church, revelation, ecumenism, religious freedom, the relationship with Judaism and the other religions.

For each of these themes he said what was at stake and recounted how the conciliar fathers addressed it. With passages of great interest on the concept of the People of God and on the relationship between Scripture and Tradition.

But to everything he added an introduction and a conclusion that particularly impressed those present.


Benedict XVI began with an anecdote, telling about when Cardinal Frings had invited him, a young theologian, to write him an outline for a conference that he would have to give in Genoa, at the request of Cardinal Siri, on the topic of "the Council and modern thought."

The outline pleased the cardinal, who read it just as the young Ratzinger had written it for him. But the best part came afterward:

"A little while later Pope John called Frings, and he was full of trepidation that he may have said something incorrect, something false, and that he had been called upon for a rebuke, perhaps even to have the scarlet taken away. . . . Yes, when his secretary was dressing him for the audience with the pope he said: 'Perhaps now I am wearing this robe for the last time.' Then he went in. Pope John came to meet him, embraced him and said: 'Thank you, Your Eminence, you have said the things that I wanted to say, but could not find the words.' In this way the cardinal knew that he was on the right path, and he invited me to go with him to the Council, first as his personal expert and then also as an official peritus."

Benedict XVI then continued:

"We went to the Council not only with joy, but with enthusiasm. The anticipation was incredible. We were hoping that everything would be renewed, that a new Pentecost would come, a new era of the Church, because the Church was still robust enough at that time, but it seemed more a reality of the past than of the future. And so we were hoping that this would change, that the Church would once again be strength for tomorrow and strength for today."

The negative model - the pope recalled - was considered to be the Roman Synod, "where it is said that texts would be read in the assembly that had already been prepared, which the members of the Synod would simply approve." At the Council the bishops did not want to do this, in that they themselves were the subjects, and "the first moment in which this attitude was demonstrated was immediately on the first day."

Scheduled for this first day were the elections of the commissions, according to lists compiled in advance. The fathers refused, they wanted to get to know each other a bit first, and then prepare new lists themselves. This is what happened. And this "was not a revolutionary act, but an act of conscience, of responsibility on the part of the conciliar fathers."

In this way - the pope recalled - there began an intense activity of mutual understanding. And this became normal for the whole period of the Council. "In this way it was able to get to know great figures like Fathers de Lubac, Daniélou, Congar. It was an experience of the universality of the Church, which does not simply receive imperatives from on high but grows and moves forward together, always under the guidance, naturally, of the successor of Peter."

Among the bishops of the whole world, those who had the most definite intentions from the start were the episcopates of France, Germany, Belgium, Holland, what was called the "Rhenish alliance." In the first part of the Council "they were therefore the ones who pointed out the way, but the activity was quickly widened and everyone participated more and more in the creativity of the assembly."


At the conclusion of the conversation, Benedict XVI instead subjected to criticism the relationship that has been established between the "true Council" and the "Council of the media," between the real Council and the virtual one.

Here it is best to consult the literal and complete transcription of his words:

"I would now like to add another point: there was the Council of the fathers - the true Council - but there was also the Council of the media. It was almost a Council unto itself, and the world perceived the Council through these, through the media.

"Therefore the Council that immediately and efficiently arrived to the people was that of the media, not that of the fathers. And while the Council of the fathers was realized within the faith, and was a Council of the faith that seeks 'intellectus,' that seeks to understand itself and seeks to understand the signs of God at that moment, that seeks to respond to the challenge of God at that moment and to find in the word of God the word for today and tomorrow, while the whole Council - as I have said - was moving within the faith, as ''fides quaerens intellectum,' the Council of the journalists was not realized, naturally, within the faith, but within the categories of today's media, meaning outside of the faith, with a different hermeneutic.

"It was a political hermeneutic. For the media, the Council was a political struggle, a power struggle between different currents in the Church. It was obvious that the media were taking sides with that part which seemed to them to have the most in common with their world. There were those who were seeking the decentralization of the Church, power for the bishops and then, through the expression "people of God," the power of the people, of the laity. There was this threefold question: the power of the pope, then transferred to the power of the bishops and to the power of all, popular sovereignty. Naturally, for them this was the side to approve of, to promulgate, to favor.

"And so also for the liturgy: the liturgy was not of interest as an act of faith, but as a matter where understandable things are done, a matter of community activity, a profane matter. And we know that there was a tendency, that was also founded historically, to say: sacrality is a pagan thing, perhaps even in the Old Testament, but in the New all that matters is that Christ died outside: that is, outside of the gates, meaning in the profane world. A sacrality therefore to be brought to an end, profanity of worship as well: worship is not worship but an act of the whole, of common participation, and thus also participation as activity.

"These translations, trivializations of the idea of the Council were virulent in the praxis of the application of liturgical reform; they were born in a vision of the Council outside of its proper key, that of faith. And thus also in the question of Scripture: Scripture is a book, historical, to be treated historically and nothing else, and so on.

"We know how this Council of the media was accessible to all. Therefore, this was the dominant, more efficient one, and has created so much calamity, so many problems, really so much misery: seminaries closed, convents closed, liturgy trivialized. . . . And the true Council had difficulty in becoming concrete, in realizing itself; the virtual Council was stronger than the real Council.

"But the real power of the Council was present and, little by little, is realizing itself more and more and becomes the true power that then is also true reform, true renewal of the Church. It seems to me that, fifty years after the Council, we see how this virtual Council is breaking up, is becoming lost, and the true Council is appearing with all of its spiritual power. And it is our task, precisely in this Year of Faith, beginning from this Year of Faith, to work in order that the true Council, with its power of the Holy Spirit, may be realized and that the Church may really be renewed. Let us hope that the Lord may help us. I, retired with my prayer, will always be with you, and together we will go forward with the Lord. In the certainty: the Lord triumphs!"


The complete conversation of Benedict XVI with the priests of Rome, February 14, 2013:

> "È per me un dono particolare della provvidenza…"